In our culture we hear a lot about having a bucket list — a list of things you would like to do or accomplish before you kick the bucket. Over the years, my passion for birding has allowed me to visit Africa, South America, Central America and most states in the U.S.

As I have gotten older, I have gotten better at recording what birds I have seen, and where. I first started keeping handwritten records of my bird watching trips when I was 13 years old. I still have all of those records which I look at with fondness, even if I can barely read my chicken scratch.

It is not uncommon for birders to keep a yard list — a list of the different birds they have seen either in or from their yard. Some people keep this record in their bird book. They write down the date they observe a particular bird in their yard for the first time.

As an individual’s interest in birding grows, it is not uncommon for him to expand the habit of recording his bird observations for different locations. For example, some people keep a county list, a state list, a list for North America, and ultimately a life list for all of the birds they have seen in their lifetime.

It wasn’t until about two years ago that I “migrated” to using eBird, a website that allows one to document each bird sighting in a checklist format. There is a place to record the date, time, location, traveling companions, and any other field notes you chose to submit with your checklist.

As you enter your sightings into eBird,

you are creating your own life list. You can sort the data by year, location, and in other ways. Anyone can create an eBird account by accessing eBird on the internet at Once you are on the eBird website, create your own account using a login and a password. Overtime you can amass a wealth of information on your birding activities and what you have seen.

While I have been blessed to do some traveling, there are many places I have yet to visit, and where I would like to go birding someday. My personal goal is to input into my eBird account all of my observations in order to develop an accurate life list of all of the different birds I have seen over the course of my life.

I recently had a birding bucket list idea — seeing every single state bird in the state in which it is the state bird. Sounds like a long road trip is brewing! This is not a realistic short-term goal, however I think it would be a fun activity to engage in over a period of time — visit all 50 states and see the state bird for each state.

A final reminder — tomorrow is the first day of the annual Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We are offering guided bird walks on Friday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb.18, to private residences to see the birds in their yards. You can participate by counting the birds in your own yard, then logging onto to record your sightings.

Until next week, Happy Birding!